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Pet Insurance

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Hugh Hasselman

Author

04 June 2020

We were recently asked about the value of pet insurance, so here’s a few thoughts. As we all know, having a pet in the family is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and a privilege that comes with great responsibility. They give us unconditional love and loyalty, and in their time we all wish for them to receive proper care.

Unlike our public health care and the ACC provision, when a health issue pops up for our pets, there is no public health system to help pay for treatment. This can result in an unexpected expense placing pressure on your family, and can put you in a position to make decisions you rather wouldn’t.

So what is pet insurance?
Basically it is a healthcare policy for your pet, that reimburses you for certain agreed medical expenses. Most pet health insurance plans are paid on a monthly basis and can cost between $20 to $120 a month. Prices vary depending on what type of pet you have, and the level of cover you choose. 

Just like regular health insurance, the policyholder pays a small portion of the bill (the excess), with the insurance company paying the remainder. Different premiums will provide for different levels of cover - though note there will be a few exclusions that won’t be covered.

Pet owning families hope that a serious accident or illness will never happen to their pet, but it often does.  Pet insurance is a proven method to allow pet owners to be confident that they have an affordable and reliable method to pay the costs of unexpected veterinary care. 

Depending on what ailment a pet might be affected by (such as an accident with a car or developing cancer) the costs involved such as surgery, diagnostics and/or medicines can quickly add-up - often in excess of two thousand dollars and with more specialist treatments costing above five thousand dollars. These costs are directly related to unsubsidised provision of medicines, specialist expertise/time and use of diagnostic equipment. 

Who do we recommend?
We are unable to recommend a specific provider (we leave this to qualified insurance brokers), but there are a number available on the market. Do your research, thinking about the species you have, it’s breed and age, and what coverage is right for you (accident and/or illness). Some providers will give you a free period when you first join up. So it’s well worth spending some time on the internet (or getting some assistance from family or friends). 
An alternative to pet insurance, is setting up a regular savings account, where a regular amount is saved (for example $5 a week). While this won’t provide the same level of coverage as insurance, it does provide a fund to offset any potential costs you might need to cover.

Useful readings:
How to choose the right pet insurance in New Zealand
Compare Pet Insurance for Cats and Dogs: The Definitive Guide

What we do recommend is that you consider pet insurance, providing you the peace of mind over your pet’s well-being and their healthcare, so the decision at difficult times is simpler. 

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